Obesity and self-esteem are often connected due to the psychological impact that being overweight can exert on people. Obesity is a serious issue that not only affects the self-esteem of the obese, but it can also lead to some negative health consequences as well. Society has established a certain standard of beauty that makes little room for the obese. This standard of beauty is consistently promoted in fashion magazines, on billboards, and in movies and TV commercials.
This type of exclusion causes feelings of inadequacy among the obese, who often feel they do not measure up to the society’s concept of beauty. This is further compounded when such overweight people are teased or ridiculed due to their weight. A number of factors affect the level of low self-esteem in relation to being overweight.
People are described as obese when their total body fat appears to be excessive in proportion to the rest of their body size. This occurs when a person’s weight is more than 20 percent above what is considered normal for his or her height and build. The degree of excess body weight can have a direct correlation to the degree of lowered self-esteem in an overweight person. Someone who is morbidly obese will probably have a more negative sense of self-perception than someone who is only about 20 percent overweight. Morbid obesity is when a person weighs 50 percent more than what is normal for his or her body type.
Culture plays an important role in obesity and self-esteem because some cultures are more tolerant and accepting of overweight people than others. For people raised in cultures that consider obesity to be a negative feature, their level of self-esteem will likely be lower. On the contrary, those raised in cultures that do not make them feel as if being overweight is negative may avoid feelings of low self-esteem.
Gender often affects the level of sense of self-perception in relation to obesity and self-esteem as well. In most cultures, girls are generally under more pressure than boys to conform to a certain accepted standard of beauty. This may cause extreme feelings of inadequacy that is reflected in a self-esteem lower than that of boys of the same age.
Even among children, obesity and self-esteem are linked. This is manifested in the way some children tease and taunt other children, including those overweight, who do not seem to fit into the accepted pattern. This causes low self-esteem in such children and feelings of not measuring up to the rest of their peers due to their weight.